Senior Researcher


GiveWell is seeking exceptional Senior Researchers to help us direct hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the most cost-effective global health and poverty alleviation programs. As part of our lean research team, you will have an outsized influence on our funding decisions and help us save and improve lives on a global scale.

You’ll create and lead ambitious research agendas, answer complex questions, and inform high-impact grantmaking decisions by combining rigorous evidence review, cost-effectiveness modeling, and thoughtful judgment.

Some Senior Researchers may eventually choose to transition into an equivalently-leveled Program Officer role to lead a large grantmaking portfolio, while others choose to stay focused on leading significant research agendas. We’re open to a wide variety of internal development options depending on your preferences and our needs.

About GiveWell

GiveWell makes grants to support cost-effective programs that save and improve lives. We focus on global health and poverty alleviation in the lowest-income parts of the world because that is where we've found we can have the greatest impact.

Since 2007, we’ve directed over $2 billion to cost-effective programs and interventions. In 2022, we made over $400 million in grants. GiveWell is one of the world’s largest private funders of global development efforts, and we estimate that the funding we've directed has saved more than 200,000 lives.

GiveWell is most well-known for recommending a small number of top charities, which currently support seasonal malaria chemoprevention, antimalarial nets, vaccine incentivization, and vitamin A supplementation. However, most of our research capacity is devoted to finding cost-effective opportunities outside of those programs.

Recent grants have:

We build cost-effectiveness models as a core tool to inform our decisions about funding allocation. However, understanding the big picture correctly requires us to grapple with difficult-to-quantify considerations, so our models often have a lot of uncertainty. As a result, we use our cost-effectiveness estimates alongside qualitative judgments and common sense.

We never take for granted that GiveWell's work is good for the world. We make our reasoning public and transparent so others can challenge it (sometimes we even pay people to point out our errors). We go to unusual lengths to check our assumptions and assess our impact, including funding research and external analysis to uncover our own mistakes and insisting that our grantees conduct rigorous monitoring and evaluation. We change our minds when the evidence demands it.

The role

Senior Researchers are the intellectual leaders of GiveWell’s work. In this role, you’ll join a small senior team in setting ambitious research agendas, sifting through the countless questions we could try to answer and honing in on those that matter most. Your decisions will inform the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars to dozens of grantees. You’ll also communicate externally about our work, and mentor and advise other members of the team.

You will shape a research agenda that brings rigor and creativity to the thorniest questions GiveWell faces. You’ll execute that agenda by combining thorough review of empirical evidence, cost-effectiveness modeling, discussions with subject matter experts, understanding of the broader context, and your own judgment. In the course of your work, you might approach questions like these:

After gaining experience on the team, Senior Researchers pursue a few pathways for career development based on their preferences and GiveWell’s needs. Some choose to develop wider and more autonomous research agendas as individual contributors, while others take on people management responsibilities. Another potential pathway is to transition into a Program Officer role, which is a lateral move—we don’t conceptualize the Senior Researcher role as a training ground for program work. Unlike many other grantmaking organizations, all of GiveWell's Program Officers are also researchers with strong technical training and a penchant for sketching out a model when they’re not sure how to approach a problem.

Program Officers typically own high-impact, cost-effective grantmaking portfolios by deepening their expertise, growing their networks, and understanding the broader context within a specific grantmaking area. They think through questions like:

  • How should we balance exploring and seeding new, smaller opportunities with funding cost-effective opportunities at scale today?
  • How can we triangulate empirical evidence against expert opinion on other qualitative features, like organizational track record?
  • What is research we can fund today that could substantially impact our grantmaking five years from now?
  • How much uncertainty are we willing to accept before making a grant? What key research questions do we need to answer before making a grant, and which ones can we deprioritize or answer later?

Team structure

Our research team is organized into seven small subteams:

  • Four of the subteams (Water & Livelihoods, Nutrition, Malaria, and Vaccines) focus on specific areas of grantmaking.
  • The New Areas subteam focuses on interventions in domains that are new to GiveWell.
  • The Cross-Cutting subteam focuses on methodological issues, research quality, and other big-picture concerns that cut across all of our research work.
  • The Commons subteam provides generalized research support to each of the other subteams, including landscaping research, project management, vetting, and editing.

In most cases, we hire Senior Researchers without knowing which subteam they’ll eventually sit on. We aim to expose our new senior team members to different types of work and parts of the team over several months to inform their eventual subteam placement. (We might settle on a subteam more quickly if new hires bring specific, specialized expertise.)

Team values

We think our research team has unique qualities:

  • We care deeply and centrally about finding and sharing truth. Truth-seeking is one of our core values. We post our mistakes and we prize our team members who keep our culture of free-flowing feedback strong.
  • We are independent. We focus 100% on finding the most cost-effective opportunities to save and improve lives. Our researchers assist in communicating our research findings to the public and our donors, and on occasion we provide tailored advice to ultra-high-net-worth donors who want to rely on our expertise to direct their giving—but we never ask our researchers to trade off against honesty, or to hide their real beliefs.
  • We don’t waste time. Once it’s clear that a particular research question is unlikely to change our bottom-line funding recommendation, we drop it as quickly as possible. We encourage our research staff to constantly re-evaluate their portfolios and only work on the highest-priority questions.
  • Lean research team = huge personal impact. In 2022, we directed about $440 million with a research staff of less than 40 people. You can do the math on the implied per-person influence on funding (with all the obvious caveats).
  • We work well together. Our research team is lean because we’re able to attract top-tier people, all of whom complete skills-based assessments before joining our staff. We maintain a high-performing, collegial culture and pay our staff accordingly.

About you

Senior Researchers must have quantitatively-oriented advanced degrees or an undergraduate degree and substantial relevant experience using empirical tools to make rigorous, evidence-based decisions in the real world. You can see all of our staff bios here.

We expect that people with the soft qualities below will be the most successful and happy on our team. This isn’t a full list, but hopefully it conveys the gist of our team’s professional personality:

  • GiveWell’s mission and methods are personally energizing—you like our approach to research and you find personal meaning in our story of impact.
  • You’re abnormally curious—you ask lots of questions, and you’re willing to interrogate others’ work. Your curiosity also extends to your own work—you aren’t defensive when your research comes under scrutiny.
  • You routinely think about and surface the value judgments, background knowledge, and strategic commitments that undergird your work. You understand the potential effects of mistaken mental models, so you strive to improve yours and your team’s.
  • You dislike it when people express strong confidence in views that don’t seem to rely on commensurate evidence. You carefully and legibly communicate about your confidence levels.
  • You appreciate the value of an excellent reputation and strong relationships. You can moderate your directness and intensity when you’re communicating with external folks.
  • You love a gnarly problem. You figure out the most important questions to answer, go deep on the details where they matter (and move on where they don’t), and reassess your mental models based on what you’ve learned.
  • You constantly assess whether you and the team are working on the most important things.

Practical details

Position: Senior Researcher

Salary: We set salaries using a location-based tier system. Our pay for this role:

  • Tier 1 (San Francisco Bay Area or New York City): $220,600.
  • Tier 2 (all other locations in the United States): $200,000.
  • International: We’ll provide a location-adjusted salary.

Benefits: For US-based employees, we cover 100% of health/vision/dental insurance premiums for you and your family, offer generous paid time off and parental leave, and provide stipends for home workstations, books, wellness, and professional development. More details here. For team members outside the US, we aim to offer similar benefits packages, dependent on factors affecting their locality.

Location: You can work fully remotely or work a hybrid schedule in our Oakland, California office or in our Brooklyn, NYC coworking space. Our team mostly works remotely throughout the United States, though we have a small number of international team members and are happy to bring on more.

  • No matter where you work, we’ll look forward to seeing you at our periodic team retreats!
  • We require that employees either work in time zones shared by the continental United States or commit to a minimum three-hour overlap with Pacific Time business hours. Our priority is for staff members to be able to collaborate relatively easily across different time zones.
  • We’ll cover relocation expenses for staff who wish to move to our Bay Area office.

Visa sponsorship: If you want to work in the United States and need a work visa, we’ll do our best to sponsor it (and also cover up to 100% of relocation expenses on a case-by-case basis). Please note that government entities ultimately dictate our ability to sponsor visas.

Miscellaneous details:

  • We devote significant staff capacity to initial application review, and we respond to all applications as quickly as possible.
  • We’re aiming to hire four to six full-time Senior Researchers. We aren’t interested in reviewing applications for contract or part-time work.

To apply

Apply here. We only accept applications through our website. Our hiring process is based mainly on a series of work trials; you can see more details on our FAQs page!

If we settle on an application deadline, we’ll write it in bold here. If you’re on our website and don’t see a deadline, there is no deadline. If you’re on an external job board and don’t see a deadline, you should double-check on our website.

Please contact with any questions.

Additional information

If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, contact us at

GiveWell is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer by choice. At minimum, this means that we comply with all federal, state, and local EEO and employment laws. Beyond the requirements of those laws, we value our team’s diversity in all respects, and we desire to maintain a work environment free of harassment or discrimination—we want our team members to thrive at GiveWell.

We will consider employment for qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.